An arepa is defined as: a flat, round, unleavened patty made of cornmeal or flour which can be grilled, baked, or fried. The characteristics vary by color, flavor, size, thickness, garnishment, and the food with which it may be stuffed, depending on the region. Arepa is a native sort of bread made of ground corn (or flour), water, and salt which is fried into a pancake-like bread. It can be topped or filled with meat, eggs, tomatoes, salad, cheese, shrimp, or fish.
Thank you Wikipedia.
Basically, an arepa is a delicious pocket of corn that is a safe substitute for us non-gluten eaters. Even if you can gobble up gluten like it’s your job, I highly suggest that you try an arepa, or arepita as we call them in our house. My boyfriend is from Venezuela where arepas are a staple for breakfast, dinner, and lunch. He is a pro at making these…. the one thing he actually does cook. 😉 He has shared his arepa making secrets with me and I just had to share.
Below I posted a link to the P.A.N (cornmeal) that you use to make arepas. Don’t try anything else (we did) because it just doesn’t taste the same. I bet if you look, you’ll find this in your grocery store in the hispanic/latin aisle.
1 cup lukewarm water
A little less than 2 cups Arepa cornmeal: Harina P.A.N (start out with a tiny bit more than 3/4 of a cup… you can always add more if you need to)
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and preheat your oven to 375.
Put your water into a medium sized bowl, make sure it’s warm (not too hot, not too cold). Pour in your P.A.N. and then with your fingers (pretend that you’re holding a baseball and that’s what your hand should look like) mix the P.A.N into the water until combined. Let it sit for a minute and you will be amazed at how the cornmeal absorbs the water. It should feel like the consistency of playdough, but grittier because of the corn. It shouldn’t be too dry and it definitely shouldn’t be watery.
Once your dough has sat for a minute, take some of the dough (a little more than 1/4 of a cup) and roll it into a ball. Then, carefully start to pat it down between both of your palms so that you make a think disk or puck. Try and smooth out the edges so that they aren’t cracked. It should be between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick.
Put your little corn patty onto your non-stick skillet and continue making patties until your dough is gone. We always get two good sized patties and two little baby patties. You want to cook the arepas so that they have a nice golden brown “crust” on each side- about 6-8 minutes per side. Be careful so that you don’t burn them! Turn your heat down if you need to.
Once your arepas are golden brown, put them on a pan and into your preheated oven. You are going to bake them (so that the insides get cooked) until when you tap them they have a sort of hollow sound. Okay, okay, okay… I’m not a native arepa maker- so that means nothing to me either. This is how my boyfriend knows that they are done. I on the other hand bake them for about 15-20 minutes.
Take them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Carefully use a serrated knife to cut into them 3/4 of the way (cutting it like a hamburger bun). We love to scrape out the insides a little with the knife so that you have a crunchy corn shell left- and we put whatever we scrape out onto the plate and put a little butter and cheese on top. A little extra deliciousness. You can leave the doughy goodness inside though. Whatever floats your boat.
We stuff our arepas with ham, our favorite scrambled eggs, cheese, and butter. My best friend Steph came over this past weekend for a cupcake photo shoot and we made these for Sunday brunch. She loved them and took that amazing photo. She requested I post the recipe, so you can thank her 🙂